Duke Ellington telling what went into his Harlem Air Shaft:
"So much goes on in a Harlem air shaft. You get the full sense of Harlem in an air shaft. You hear fights,you smell dinner, you hear people making love. You hear intimate gossip floating down. You hear the radio. An air shaft is one big loudspeaker. You see your neighbor's laundry. You hear the janitor's dogs. The man upstairs' aerial falls down and breaks your window. You smell coffee. A wonderful thing, that smell. An air shaft has got every contrast. One guy is cooking dried fish and rice and another guy's got a great big turkey. Guy-with-fish's wife is a terrific cooker but the guy's wife with the turkey is doing a sad job. You hear people praying, fighting, snoring. Jitterbugs are jumping up and down always over you, never below you...I tried to put all that in Harlem Air Shaft."
—From Nat Hentoff's Jazz Is (1976)
JazzWax videoclip: Today, as we casually click to download digital jazz tracks, have a look here at a fabulous promotional clip from the late 1930s as Duke Ellington helps illustrate the arduous process of record-making. Hail to the tech geeks of old!